Oni Press is getting ready to adapt the novel Night People by Barry Gifford(to famous novelist who has also collaborated with David Lynch) into a new four-issue comics series. To do so, the publisher is teaming Gifford with a host of well-known comics creators, including writer Christopher Condon.
And recently The Beat had a chance to discuss the project with Condon. Check out our conversation below, after the first issue cover!
Chris Condon Talks Night People
THE BEAT: How did this adaptation come to be?
CHRIS CONDON: It was Hunter Gorinson who first brought the project to me. It was a bit of a passion project for him, something he had wanted to bring to life for years. I was honored to be asked, of course. He sent me a copy of the book and I was hooked. I knew it would be a challenge but it was a challenge I was thrilled to take on. I’m really proud of these four issues because I think it remains extremely faithful to Barry Gifford’s original novel while also being something that I think retains my comics writing style.
THE BEAT: What was the collaborative process like having different artists on each chapter, and what did each of them bring to the process?
CONDOM: I worked closely on everything with editors Megan Brown, Jung Leeand the author of Night People, Barry Gifford. As each character concept came in, we would give all notes, if needed. I worked pretty closely with Brian Level on the first issue, so that was the one that really sets the tone for the rest of the series. That said, it’s inherently a different kind of collaboration than what Jacob Phillips and I do on That Texas Blood or enfield because we own those titles and we’re our own editors, really. But it’s still great fun to bounce stuff back and forth when invited to. Otherwise, I like to just get out of the way and let the artists take my black-and-white script and bring it to life. It’s really a special series because each of our four artists — Brian, Alexandre, Artyom, and Marco — are all bringing their own unique styles to their specific issues. Each complements the others but retains their own unique vibe. It’s really exciting.
THE BEAT: How involved was Barry Gifford in the process?
CONDOM: While Barry didn’t write the scripts with me, he was very much involved in every aspect of the series. Every penciled page, every concept sketch, and every script goes to him for approval. He really liked what we were doing and the trust he put in us was humbling. But I should also note that, while I wrote the scripts by myself, Barry’s fingerprints are all over this adaptation. It’s his work by him that we were adapting and we all tried our damndest to stay as true to his original work by him as we could.
THE BEAT: What makes NIGHT PEOPLE in particular ripe for comic book adaptation?
CONDOM: NIGHT PEOPLE is an intense book and, frankly, we’re living through an intense time. I couldn’t think of a better time for a book like this to come out. It doesn’t shy away from the dark stuff in life, nor should it. In that way, I think it’s safe to say that Barry Gifford is the perfect writer for today, despite the fact that the novel was written over thirty years ago. I think that’s true of a lot of his work. But NIGHT PEOPLE, specifically, is about a country that’s more broken than anyone realizes. Does that sound like America as we know it today? I sure think it does. We’re living in a fractured world where the line between truth and delusion has become astonishingly blurred. In NIGHT PEOPLE, we see just such a world through the eyes of Barry’s characters, some who have been broken and have turned to insane beliefs to cope, while others merely find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. One such character is Easy Earl, who I find to be one of the most sympathetic characters in the whole of Barry’s novel. He’s a man who finds his world turned completely upside down by a momentary slip into the cracks of that fractured world. Who can’t identify with that?
THE BEAT: Finally, as a huge fan of That Texas Blood…I have to ask, when you’re not working in that world, how do you keep that distinctive Texas vernacular from finding its way into its scripting?
CONDOM: Well, gahdamn. I s’ppose I jus’ gotta work on it until I can get ‘er right.
Night People #1 is due out March 6.